SDG Knowledge Weekly: Health, Climate, Gender and Development Cooperation
UN Photo/Evan Schneider
story highlights

The World Health Organization and World Meteorological Organization signed a collaboration agreement on joint work towards climate and health goals, while Marie Stopes International Australia published a position paper on climate and gender.

The Overseas Development Institute offers insight on gender-responsive public expenditure management in a briefing paper.

AidData surveys 3,500 development policy leaders to examine whether development cooperation is “tuned-in or tone-deaf,” also reviewing trends and perceptions of the donor community.

This brief continues last week’s discussion on efforts to achieve SDG 3 (good health and well-being) and beyond, to look at reports and initiatives addressing climate (SDG 13), gender (SDG 5), employment (SDG 8) and public expenditures and development cooperation (SDG 17).

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that nine out of ten people breathe polluted air, which is responsible for over seven million premature deaths each year. Linking healthy lives to climate action, WHO and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) recently signed a ‘Collaboration Framework on Climate, Environment and Health.’ The agreement aims to improve environmental risk monitoring and promote policies that cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions while boosting public health outcomes. It scales up current efforts by WHO and WMO, conducted by a joint office. WHO is the custodial agency for SDG indicator 3.9.1, which measures the mortality rate attributed to household and ambient air pollution.

Linkages between health and climate change also affect women’s issues and gender equality, the subject of SDG 5. Marie Stopes International Australia focuses on these issues in the Asia Pacific in a position paper titled, ‘Climate Change Solutions: Empowering women and girls through reproductive choice,’ the subject of SDG targets 3.1 and 3.7. The authors note that when health systems fail following natural disasters, the effects on women’s reproductive health are disproportionate, as rates of maternal mortality, unplanned pregnancies and unsanitary deliveries increase; this also has impacts on population growth. In addition, fostering more sustainable population growth by expanding reproductive choice for women in turn makes communities more resilient to climate change. Completing a virtuous circle, sustainable population growth can lead to lower GHG emissions, serving as a cost-effective climate change mitigation strategy.

Linkages among Goals are also the subject of an Overseas Development Institute (ODI) briefing paper on gender-responsive public expenditure management (GRPEM). The paper reviews recent literature to derive a definition for GRPEM and outlines how theoretical GRPEM approaches can be practically applied through examples in Liberia, Pakistan, Rwanda and Uganda. Recognizing that ministries of finance in “low-capability states” operate with weak public expenditure systems and scarce financial resources, the authors outline the difficulties of tackling cross-cutting issues such as gender. They highlight ministries of finance’s limited mandates, as well as prioritization issues that reduce the importance of gender in the process to allocate public funds, with gender equality being viewed as the purview of other institutions.

The paper identifies political will, sustainability (where the reform process is able to continue year-on-year), and availability of data disaggregated by gender and donor influence as drivers of effective GPREM. Overarching recommendations for policy makers are to use basic budgetary techniques to inform strategic planning, build gender awareness into financial data, and support line ministries to undertake gender analyses within their own budgets.

Connecting SDGs 5 and 17 to inclusive economic growth, decent jobs and climate action in practice, BSR staff published a blog on GreenBiz that makes a “business case for empowering women through climate-resilient supply chains.” The article cautions that climate change will exacerbate existing inequalities as well as the economic, political, cultural and social barriers that marginalize and disproportionately affect women. Therefore, the authors argue that sectors which are highly reliant on a female workforce (i.e. agriculture) face particularly high risks. In order to address this climate risk, they suggest that companies apply a gender lens to activities and planning, including through provision of information, trainings, connecting to local networks, and building strategies for resilience. The post cites data from the Clinton Global Initiative indicating that women spend 90% of their income on their families, and thus, efforts to empower women also have a return for community development.

On development cooperation, AidData published a report titled, ‘Listening to Leaders 2018: Is development cooperation tuned-in or tone-deaf?’ The report stems from a survey of 3,500 development policy leaders across 22 sectors, and examines the priorities of leaders and citizens (with emphasis on mapping these to the SDGs), progress towards those priorities and who is seen as preferred partners. AidData finds that while respondents prioritize education, jobs and strong institutions, environmental goals tend to fall by the wayside. The report notes reduced service provision in poor or undemocratic countries. There also appears to be a rift between leaders and citizens on food security and health in cities; leaders see each of these as being of reduced importance compared to citizens.

The report also notes trends and perceptions of the donor community. It finds that even if donors lag on overall performance, there is scope to carve out niche areas of advantage or expertise. The World Bank and US are found to perform consistently well across geographic regions, and that GAVI, the Global Fund, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the UN Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), and UN Development Programme all “punch above their weight” given limited budgets. Findings from the report with respect to the SDGs are also summarized in an article on National Public Radio’s (NPR’s) website.

Additional issues of the SDG Knowledge Weekly can be found here.

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